Happy trail (mix) to you this holiday season

I’m about to get all Betty Crocker on you, maybe just a little Martha Stewart.

Here’s an idea for a cheap and easy Christmas gift for any outdoorsy type — holiday trail mix.

I realize trail mix isn’t a new concept, and perhaps a Christmas-themed version isn’t either, but I felt pretty crafty coming up with this sweet and salty mixture.

Hope this Christmas gift/snack idea helps you in a pinch or adds a little yumminess to your holiday season.

Throw together salted peanuts, shelled sunflower seeds, cashews, green and red mini M&Ms, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips in whatever combination suits your taste buds.

I scooped it into clear cellophane bags and finished it with some festive ribbon to give to some of my coworkers this year. I haven’t passed them out yet, but plan to next week.

Then I’ll know who doesn’t follow my blog (naughty) and who does (nice) as to whether they’re surprised by the gift.


I need a little Christmas (tree)

I jumped into Christmas with both feet this weekend.

I wrapped a few presents. Made yet another gift order from Amazon.com. Slurped down a mug of gingerbread hot chocolate from IHOP (it’ll change your life). Went to a local Christmas parade with my two main guys. Then topped off Sunday night with a road trip to Lights of the South in Grovetown, Ga., which boasts more than 4 million lights over 100 acres — and we walked them ALL.

I’m so giddy with holiday cheer I’ve even cheated on my tried-and-true XM stations (80s on 8 and Hair Nation) and dabbled in a little Christmas music.

I finally committed to decorating my office Christmas tree today. It’s a whopping 3-footer, complete with some of the hunting- and fishing-themed ornaments my mom has bought me over the years.

Oh, Christmas tree, office Christmas tree. You keep me from going holiday crazy…

My favorites are the little s’mores guys. They look like marshmallow snowmen, each sitting atop a graham cracker. One is roasting a weenie over a pinecone campfire; another is dressed in hunter orange and pointing his loaded cinnamon stick in a safe direction.

That little tree will serve as a beacon of cheesy, cutesy cheer all month long.

December is a juggling act for me, like I’m sure it is for all of you. It’s the beginning of production for the March-April issue of Turkey Country — our biggest issue of the year. It’s when my dance card for SHOT Show begins to fill. And it’s the calm before the storm that is the NWTF’s annual national convention (which is Feb. 9 to 12 at Nashville’s Gaylord Resort and Convention Center, by the way. Register online at www.nwtf.org/special_events/convention.html).

Mix all that with Christmas parties, shopping, decorating, overeating and plop it on top of daily life, and I’m one skin breakout away from throwing a tinsel-flyin’ hissy fit.

But there’s something about a Christmas tree that brings end-of-the-year, hectic holiday hoopla into balance.

Perhaps because a Christmas tree is often a reflection of who we are and what’s important to us. Each ornament tells our story — our hobbies, our family, favorite colors and interests, if we’re coordinated or like a little randomness (like me).

When you step away and look at the entire tree, all those tiny elements blur together to make a single, beautiful sight.

Take time to soak in your Christmas tree this December. Grab a cup of cocoa, put your arm around a loved one and look at everything you are, everything you’ve accomplished and what you stand for.

P. S. — I would love to see what your tree looks like and what it says about you. Send photos to me via email, or let’s become friends on Facebook and share them there. Search for Karen Lee National Wild Turkey Federation and you’ll find me and my alter ego. Pick Karen Lee for Keepin’ Up With Karen, otherwise you’ll find my grossly-neglected personal Facebook account.